Merolla Chiropractic

100 Bedford Street
New Bedford, MA 02740


Posts for tag: back pain

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan, which is an HMO, has come up with some eye-popping guidelines (at least to chiropractors), for the treatment of chronic back pain.  

According to this Pennsylvania based insurance company, you cannot have surgery for chronic back pain without trying three months of non-invasive care like chiropractic. 

The exact quote is that a person must have "tried and failed a 3-month course of conservative management that included physical therapy, chiropractic therapy, and medication."   Link:


Chiropractors have only been saying this since forever and it is a great start at overhauling our healthcare system. 

But the powers that be may certainly put up some resistance. There is quite a bit of money to be made on spinal surgery.  Let me throw up some numbers I’ve come across:

Anterior cervical (neck) fusion costs $44,000, cervical (neck) fusion: $19,850, decompression back surgery: $24,000, lumbar (back) laminectomy: $18,000, and lumbar spinal fusion: $34,500.

Decreasing the money spent on surgery could certainly get the attention of surgeons.  And they may not be happy.

Just ask Dr. David Spodick, a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts.  He stated in the book Medical Dissent, “Surgery is the sacred cow of our health-care system and surgeons are the sacred cowboys who milk it.”

Still don’t believe me?  Let’s travel back to 1994 when the journal Spine published an international comparison of back surgery rates.  There conclusion: back surgery in the United States was at least 40% higher than in any other country and back surgery rates went up in the United States in areas where there were more neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons.  Link:

I know what you’re thinking; surely our health care system is interested in working with chiropractors for the better outcome of their patients.

Well, consider this.  In December of last year, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress was turned down by the American Medical Association when they tried to place an ad in their journal Archives of Internal Medicine.  At the same time they were turned down by American Academy of Family Physicians for the same ad being placed in their journal American Family Physician. 

What did the ad say?  Basically, let’s all work together for our patient’s.  Here’s a link to the actual ad so you can judge for yourself:

The bottom line at this point, change is coming, but perhaps a little too late for some back surgery patients.

By Dr. Mike Merolla
April 22, 2012
Category: low back pain
Tags: chiropractic   back pain   drugs   safety  

Big Pharma probably has its hooks into you and you don’t even know it. 

 This was brought home to me yesterday in a conversation I had at a party.  Big Pharma, in case you’re unaware, is the pharmaceutical industry. 

 The pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars every year on direct to the consumer advertising.  The only other country besides the U.S. that allows the pharmaceutical industry to advertise directly to consumers is New Zealand – it’s banned in all the others.  The industry makes billions more manufacturing those drugs and then distributing them to you through your medical doctor and pharmacy.

And most people are led to believe drugs are safe

I had a conversation with a friend’s mother that reminded me of all this.  She had recently fallen off a chair while cleaning her windows.  Over the next few days she developed back pain.  It would not go away, so she saw her primary doctor.  He placed her on two drugs: an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxant.  By the time we talked - it was now almost 3 weeks after the injury - she was also taking over the counter Tylenol (acetaminophen).  I asked her when she was to return to her doctor, and she told me a follow up visit had never been made or discussed.  In the meantime, she was getting no relief!

 I asked her why she had not talked to me (she knows me very well).  She told me she had thought of calling, but was afraid of having her “back cracked” and though it might not be safe since she was in so much pain.

You can imagine my surprise.  I knew that acetaminophen caused about 500 deaths a year from liver failure and was responsible for over 50,000 ER visits per year (just go to WebMD for a recent article:

But she didn’t know the dangers of medication and thought it was the chiropractor who was to be avoided.

 Why would she think this? 

Well as you might imagine, one answer is Big Pharma.  They have a poor track record when it comes to letting us know about the potential dangers of their medications.  They also have great difficulty stating the true benefits vs. risks of their drugs.  For a recent example, you can read about Johnson and Johnson, which has been fined more than $1.2 billion for deceptive marketing of Risperdal, its antipsychotic drug.  And this is just one of 11 lawsuits over Risperdal that Johnson and Johnson has been involved in over the last several years.  (See CBS news:$1.1b-in-risperdal-case/).

 This story does have a happy ending. 

As you might imagine, after talking with me, she made an appointment in the office and began feeling better after one treatment one!  More relief came from hands on care than almost 3 weeks on medication. 

And her liver is fine with the chiropractic adjustments!  I don’t think the same can be said for the drugs.